In Review: Vampirella/Red Sonja #2

The heroes meet and investigate an unknown Russian base.

The covers: A massive eighteen covers to pick up for this second issue. The A cover was created by Tula Lotay and is a beautifully modern illustration of the title characters. Vampirella reclines in a chair outside holding a martini glass that has just a remainder of red liquid within it. She has on pants that match her red top. She drapes one arm onto her knee. Behind her is Sonja in her iconic metal bikini, a long sword over her right shoulder. The Hyrkanian is in darker colors to show her distance from the reader. Giant fern leaves are before and behind the characters with the prime color of the background a hot pink. Very striking. The B cover by David Mack is also gorgeous. Sonja has a hand to her a throat as she leans forward, the other is on her hip. Her hair billows out behind her. To the right is a bust shot of Sonja in a fierce orange. This reminds me of a Leroy Neiman painting. Very stylish and very colorful. Against the backdrop of a picnic blanket, a muscular Sonja chews a bite from her cheeseburger, while Vampriella touches her mouth to clean some of the burger she’s just bitten. The pair are dressed in their familiar togs and really stand out against this background. Why Babs Tarr has this as the C cover is revealed later in the book. Very funny. On the next cover, the reader is looking down at a smiling Sonja on the left. She’s used her sword to tear down the montage of covers of Vampirella books that she was behind. Clever idea for the D cover by Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire. The E cover is almost the same thing. Created by Drew Moss and Rebecca Nalty, Sonja is in the lower left holding her long sword up high into the right corner. Behind her is a faded red cover from Red Sonja #1 illustrated by Frank Thorne. Cool way to show the present and the past. This was the cover I picked up because I grew up with Thorne’s Sonja books and I miss them terribly. The 10 Copy Incentive B&W cover by Moss is the same as the E, but without colors or Thorne’s art. Nice, but I like Thorne’s art and miss it on this. The 20 Copy “Virgin” Incentive by Romero and Bellaire is the D cover without any text. Not bad. Next is the 30 Copy Incentive “Virgin” Incentive by Moss, Nalty, and Thorne, which is the E without text. Much better! The 40 Copy Incentive B&W “Virgin” by Romero is the D without any colors. Actually looks pretty cool like this. Then there’s the 50 Copy Incentive “Virgin” cover by Lotay, which is the A without text. Gorgeous. This is followed by the Limited Edition “Virgin” cover by Tarr; the C without text. Good. The Limited Edition “Virgin” cover by Mack is the B without text and it, too, is good. The FOC Incentive B&W “Virgin” cover by Romero is the D without colors or text. It’s okay, but I’m burning out on these B&W variants. The FOC Incentive “Virgin” Tint cover by Romero is the same as the previous colors, but tinted red. Okay, I guess. New covers begin to appear with the FOC Incentive Sneak Peek cover by Frank Cho and Sabine Rich. This has Vampirella sitting on a rock in the upper right corner, while Sonja stands looking at the reader in the lower right. You can’t wrong with anything from Cho or Rich. The FOC Incentive Sneak Peek “Virgin” cover by Cho and Rich is the same as the previous cover, but without any text. The Great Find Comics Exclusive Cosplay cover featuring Ireland Reid as Sonja. Against a white background, Sonja is wearing her metal bikini with a sword held with both hands behind her back. She looks good, with her hair and lips striking. The final cover is the Comics Elite Exclusive cover by Billy Tucci. This has Sonja and Vampirella standing back to back before a full moon in an orange sky. They are surrounded by mounds of skulls with various blades sticking out of them and a fire in the foreground. Sonja has her right hand on the hilt of her sword at her side, while her left holds a massive battleaxe that touches the ground. Vampirella has her blood covered hands at her side. The vampire looks especially serious. Overall grades: A A, B A, C A, D B, E A-, 10 Copy Incentive C+, 20 Copy Incentive B, 30 Copy Incentive A, 40 Copy Incentive C+, 50 Copy Incentive A+, Limited Edition “Virgin” Tarr A, Limited Edition “Virgin” Mack A, FOC Incentive B&W “Virgin” C, FOC Incentive “Virgin” Tint C, FOC Incentive Sneak Peek A, FOC Incentive Sneak Peek “Virgin” A, Great Find Comics Exclusive Cosplay A+, and Comics Elite Exclusive A+

The story: This is a great second installment from writer Jordie Bellaire. The issue begins where the last left off: Vampirella has gone into a cave and discovered a very feral Sonja. The Hyrkanian has pulled her sword and put it to the vampire’s neck. Using her vampire skill of hypnotism, she’s able to make Sonja pass out. She takes the woman to an occultist to find out why she was acting like a yeti. Sonja had a curse put on her which the Occultist quickly cures her of, resulting in Sonja bolting up, punching the Occultist, and making a run for the exit. Vampirella grabs her by the cloak to stop her, resulting in Sonja grabbing a pair of scissors as a weapon. What happens next is very cool and how Vampirella is able to communicate with the warrior is clever. Sonja is then taken to where Vampirella is staying and the pair bond over food and what Vampy is looking for. The pair are once again in the forest, but now as allies. Sonja is able to kill men she abhors, allowing Vampirella to investigate a new setting, and make a surprising discovery on the final page. This was a clever, funny, and action filled book. I want Bellaire to write more Sonja and Vampirella outings, but I’ll settle for the continuation of this series. Overall grade: A

The art: The first page shows a frightened Sonja in her cave. There are five circular panels around her to give the reader Vampirella’s point of view as she quickly scans the space. This is very nifty work from artist Drew Moss. I love how much of a mess Sonja is in the bottom panel. The second page brilliantly shows the influence of Vampirella upon Sonja, with some very cool 1960’s trippy spirals surrounding them. I really like the Occultist’s room, which is filled with zillions of neat books and artifacts — this must have taken a forever for Moss to create! Sonja’s awakening is wonderfully rapid and the action that follows is great. What keeps Sonja away from the other two characters in the room looks great. I would love to see more magic in this book based on these illustrations. The character at the bottom of Page 8 looks amazing — what a face! Sonja’s garb and stances on 10 – 13 are perfection; she is cool and completely out of time. The wall in the final panel on 12 is outstanding. I love how Vampirella looks like the weak character on 15 with Sonja looking a terror. The killing on 16 is great and the intensity that ends the page will definitely get hearts pumping. I’m not thrilled with how Vampirella is drawn as she runs around, which is a blur of lines, rather than showing her to the reader. This was disappointing, I mean, even the Flash is shown when he’s running about. The penultimate page has some great tension with only two words of text. This is a terrific way to pull a reader into a story. The final page is a full-paged splash that shows a previously shown character speaking with a new, surprising character. I need more Drew Moss art in my life! Overall grade: A

The colors: The reds used on the first page are an excellent way to increase the tension for encountering Sonja. The violets on the second page are a cool way to show hypnotism in use. I love how colorist Rebecca Nalty gives Vampirella a red top to remind the reader of her dark nature that’s hidden from the Occultist. The pink that surrounds Sonja after she awakens was a surprising choice but works extremely well. I like how the backgrounds go orange while Sonja’s dialogue becomes translated, making the conversation seem urgent. Pages 10 – 12 are in cool blues and tans which are a nice change of pace from the previous pages. I love the snow covered woods which has Nalty using dark colors for the evening without destroying the art. Reds come into play on 18 and 19 which increase the tension of what Vampirella is soon to see. I like the emerald used on 19 which looks wholly unnatural. Overall grade: A

The letters: Becca Carey is the book’s letterer, creating dialogue and narration (the same font), primal grunts, sounds, Hyrkanian speech, and the story’s title and credits. I’m okay with the dialogue and narration being similar because the narration is speech that Vampirella puts into her tape recorder later, so it would technically still be speech. The utterances from feral Sonja are great. I also like the Hyrkanian dialogue Sonja gives when no one can understand her. It could be absolute nonsense created by Carey, but it looks believable. The sounds are small, but make the actions, especially in the closing, cool. Overall grade: A 

The final line: The heroes meet and investigate an unknown Russian base. The story is fantastic, with the justification for their meeting solid, with each character remaining absolutely true to their past incarnations. I love the humor, the action, and the tone of this tale. The visuals are also incredibly strong. I love out of place Sonja trying to deal with modern day Vampirella. When the characters go into action they are great. This is the team up of the year! Track this down! Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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